UNCW’s Leonard Honored for Outstanding Work as Senior Student Affairs Officer

Patricia Leonard, UNCW Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Patricia Leonard, UNCW Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, has been named the recipient of The John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Senior Student Affairs Officer. The award is given annually by the NASPA Foundation, the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession.

The award honors individuals who demonstrate sustained professional service as a Senior Student Affairs Officer, meriting respect and support of students, faculty and fellow administrators on his/her own campus.

A life-long student affairs professional, Leonard has served three different schools over a 35-year period. She has 30 years of service to UNCW, 17 as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Her leadership has been instrumental in the conceptualization of numerous campus services and departments, and the renovation and construction of many campus facilities. Most recently, she oversaw the design and construction of the Student Rec Center's expansion, which was a years-long endeavor and culminated in a grand reopening on April 26.

"I am very grateful to my staff for the nomination. Much of my success is due in large part to the outstanding people I have worked with over the years," states Leonard. "I would not have the accomplishments I do without the support of so many people."

Some of Leonard’s career highlights:

  • Oversaw the creation of a one-stop health services building housing advising, student health, counseling and a learning center
  • Numerous national presentations and consultations with the Department of Education on topics such as substance abuse education, sexual assault awareness, public health, mental health, high-risk drinking and violence prevention
  • Creation of a four-building “student union”  complex, the hub of campus life as well as assisting the university with securing private donations to endow the union
  • Established numerous campus initiatives, including Convocation, Senior Seminar, a nationally known substance abuse and violence prevention center and campus living and learning communities
  • Secured $1.5 million in federal, evidence-based violence prevention grants
  • Design and creation of three new apartment and suite-style residential communities with state-of-the-art amenities
  • Service to the local Wilmington community as a long-term member of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees


Letters of support from former students and staff echoed Leonard’s exceptional service, positive attitude and driven work ethic for UNCW and the broader higher education community. Dr. Michael Walker, UNCW Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students: “Beyond bricks and mortar and offices, Pat has impacted the lives of thousands of students, faculty and staff given her level of leadership and personal interactions.”

John Jones served as the first Vice President of Student Affairs of the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 1978-1990. He was responsible for the development, design and funding of the Hill University Center, UAB's first student center complex and was actively involved in the planning, construction and operation of the Bartow Arena.  

Leonard will receive the award at a luncheon during the NASPA Region III Summer Symposium in June in Austin, Texas. She is also eligible for the Scott Goodnight Award given by NASPA at its annual Spring Conference. Additionally, UNCW will recognize her at a Student Affairs division meeting in the fall.